The Leaning Tower of Pisa

When I think of Italy, immediately I remember my 7 day trip to Rome 4 years ago.  I think of the wonderful food, the streets, the Colosseum, Ancient Rome, the Vatican… Oh, the Sistine Chapel! It’s incredible in person.

When I think of sights I’d love to see in Italy, I think of Florence, Venice, Cinque Terra (five towns located on a cliff overlooking the ocean), Sicily, Turin… and always the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it took over a century to build… but it also reminds me of what I’ve nicknamed my own back.

scoliosis lumbar and thoracic

The Tower of Pisa took 177 years to complete.  A lot of money and thought went into the design, specially after a 4 decade construction halt because the soft soil around the foundations began to give.  Did you know that the tower leaned 5.5 degrees (in 2001 prior to some restoration work)?  My back has a curvature between 48-51 degrees! The Tower is a symbol for a continuous work in progress, one with no end. So am I.

I refuse to let my back dictate what I can and cannot do in life. I have some medical limitations and physical restrictions but I do limit high impact workouts, sports and absolutely no running.  For me, working out and keeping my weight down to my body’s ideal range is a necessity and it’s non-negotiable.

While I can’t “fix” my back, I can take precautions so it doesn’t get worse.  Seriously, would you let someone cut you open from your neck to your tail bone, break you piece by piece and glue you back together with titanium rods? I don’t think so! You would do whatever it took so you could live a healthy life and not miss out on the important things; like holding your children for 6-9months.

People always ask me: what do you do for exercise? After I had my first child, I needed a little motivation, so I joined the gym and did group exercise classes 3x a week.  I worked out during my second pregnancy about 2-3x a week for the first 6-7 months.  After that, my back said “stop!”  3 months after a second c-section I went back to group exercise classes.  It’s what I needed to get back into a routine. Update: after my 3rd child, I returned to the gym a few times per week. This third time was a lot harder to loose the weight and get in shape, especially because I work full time. 

I also bought a home exercise program because I couldn’t get to the gym due to my son’s nap schedule and I was just too tired at night.  My children come first, so I found a way around it! (Kid sleeps, mommy works out).   Last spring I did P90X for 12 weeks. While it was really hard, I felt better than ever.  After a 2 month summer break I re-joined the gym and thanks to group exercise I found my groove again.  Yes, there are many days I don’t feel like excercising… but I grit my teeth and in the end, I feel much better.

In a culture that is so body obsessed, are we working out for the right reasons?  I work out for my health because I can’t afford not to.  I want to stay healthy for my family and set a positive example for my children.  If I don’t take care of myself, who is going to take care of my children today, next year, five years from now… and the rest of their life?  Yes, one day they will grow up and won’t need me as much.  I want to be around to enjoy all of God’s plan for me, healthy and in one piece.

March 16, 2011

7 thoughts on “The Leaning Tower of Pisa”

  1. Kim Olsen says:

    One word…..Speechless!!

    This is such an amazing story about you, who you are & what you stand for in life…Being real, honest & down to earth! I have the utmost respect for you, personally & for you as a mom. I enjoyed reading this and getting to know you even better. Your site is so refreshing..thank you for sharing!


    1. Laura says:

      Thanks so much Kim. It means a lot coming from you. Like I said: I try to keep up with you in class! Although not always possible, I have a great time trying! As always, I appreciate your daily FB posts to keep me on track for the day.:)

  2. janetmarie says:

    Good for you! Your spine’s a mess, but your attitude is first class. Keep it up!.

  3. I had an upper curve degree of 47 degrees and had the spinal fusion surgery with the titanium rods when I was younger. Prior to surgery my back ached all the time, though I was incredibly athletic, participating in all kinds of active sports. After recovering from the surgery, my back never hurt again – not for one minute – and I am not limited at all as to what I can do. I am a very active, babywearing (my 2 1/2 year old toddler), mama of 3 boys who had all natural births and is a practitioner of Krav Maga. I just wanted to throw that out there. Having the surgery was a very positive choice for me.

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      I’m so thankful that it was great for you! I’m at the point where although it’s not limiting, it does ache sometimes. I don’t take any medication but surgery isn’t an option for me at this moment. I appreciate your feedback for sure! I’m feeling kind of old to take on the recovery process..etc.

  4. Stephanie says:

    hi Laura, I just came across this post of yours. Thanks so much for sharing! I have a spinal curvature of 29 degrees. It was between 38-41, but I did a lot of yoga and therapy while I was pregnant with my son, and was able to reduce my curvature about 10 degrees. I also have a goal of staying healthy and fit, and am wondering – did your doctor recommend you stop running? I do a combination of running and yoga, and it feels okay. My doctor always told me I could continue whatever activities I wanted and had no limitations. (I’ve heard how wonderful swimming can be too!).

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Hi Stephanie! you reduced your curve by 10 degrees? AMAZING. I have no limitations. However, running isn’t the best (impact wise) for my joints and back. Swimming is phenomenal. I took on swimming last year and I love it. You can read about it here.

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